How to improve your English listening skills?

How to improve your English listening skills?

Along with reading, writing, and speaking, listening is one of the key skills you need to master if you want to master the English language. However, it is also a skill that many learners struggle with.


What makes listening so difficult:

In comparison with reading, there are a few things that make listening harder to master. To understand speech and recordings in English, it is not enough to have a large vocabulary and good grammar. You need to know correct English pronunciation, but, unfortunately, that is not enough either. 

Each speaker brings their unique peculiarities to speaking English: their accent, how clearly they speak, how fast they speak. If you have never heard a native speaker talk before, understanding them can be really hard even if your general level of English proficiency is quite high. 

The language itself does not make it any easier. English has lots of words that differ a lot in spelling and in pronunciation. If you have seen such words in a text but never heard them, recognizing them in speech is next to impossible. 


However, it does not mean that you are doomed to struggle with listening forever - not at all. If you take the right steps (and have a little patience), you can improve your listening greatly.


How you can improve your listening?

Here are some tips that can help you take your listening skills to a new level.


1. Practice regularly: 

Just as your muscles need regular exercise to stay fit, your ears need regular listening practice to stay sharp. If you listen to even a little bit of English every day your progress will be fast.


2. Listen at every opportunity:

When you learn new words, listen to their pronunciation in an online dictionary like dictionary.cambridge.org or at forvo.com where words are pronounced by native speakers from all over the world. 


If you are using a language website like
Sylingo.com, have the sound on to hear how the phrases and sentences are pronounced. 


Listen to podcasts for English learners, the radio, audiobooks. Watch videos in English on
youtube.com, movies, and TV shows. The more you listen the faster your skill will grow.


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3.Vary your resources:

If you listen to just one speaker, for example, your English teacher or the presenter of your favorite podcast, you get used to their manner of speech pretty quickly. But listening to other speakers, especially those with heavy accents or those who speak very fast, can still be hard. 


Limiting yourself is harmful in this case. Use different listening resources and listen to as many different people as you can.


4. Listen and read at the same time:

Listening to unadapted English speech can be challenging, especially if you are just beginning to develop this skill. One of the ways to get started is to listen and read at the same time. This way, even if the speaker has a peculiar accent or uses words with a challenging pronunciation, you can use the text to check your understanding.


At ted.com, for example, all the lectures have subtitles and full text available. BBC 6 minute English is a fun podcast for intermediate learners with PDFs of each episode available for download.


5. Listen actively:

Pay attention to the pronunciation of words and phrases, the speaker’s intonation and accent. Listen for key information. Don’t just turn on the listening file and let yourself get distracted.

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6. Have fun!

Nowadays, so many resources are out there that you can find what you enjoy. Choose podcasts and YouTube videos on the topics that you enjoy. Watch your favorite movies. Find a radio station at tunein.com that you like. 


Listening to what you enjoy not only makes it a more fun experience but also makes your learning more effective.  

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